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The Brief: Dec. 2, 2010

Some House newbies on Wednesday experienced the crush of political defeat for the first time — courtesy of a box of ping pong balls.

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Some House newbies on Wednesday experienced the crush of political defeat for the first time — courtesy of a box of ping pong balls. And stinging defeats they surely were, given that this contest partly centered on, yes, parking spots.

Attending their second day of orientation in Austin, House freshmen, as the tradition now goes, drew numbers determining their seniority from the aforementioned box — the process by which members are given dibs on office space, floor seats and parking.

Not to be dismissed entirely, seniority can also determine committee positions down the road.

The Tribune's Elise Hu was there to witness the action among the 37 new members, who compose the largest incoming class since the 1970s and one of the biggest in the state's history. The freshmen, mostly Republicans, have been getting the how-to on procedure and ethics this week, and true to freshman form, the process left some in attendance a bit overwhelmed.  

"When I showed up for the first day of orientation and they handed us this big huge thick booklet, this binder, this huge folder," Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, told KVUE News. "I don't think I've ever seen a folder so big in my life."

And as Rodney Anderson, R-Grand Prairie, tweeted after nabbing the most coveted ping pong ball, "Drew Number 1 for class seniority...now what..."

CULLED:

  • The Trib's Ross Ramsey has an interview with speaker candidate Ken Paxton, who says he's optimistic about his chances of unseating incumbent Joe Straus and maintains that he's got more votes than you think he might. Paxton, a Republican from McKinney, also had some colorful words about his opponent: "In the [state] party, I would say that Joe is the most controversial Republican elected official, at least at high level, that maybe has ever happened."
  • Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has been transferred to San Angelo, where he'll stand trial on charges of bigamy and sexual assault of a child.
  • Criticism is mounting over a Texas A&M University System policy prohibiting professors from directing students to file public information requests to their own universities.

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